Ben Ainslie, among the most decorated Olympic sailors of all time, will be racing in the 2012-2013 America’s Cup World Series, with a view to developing his team into a full-fledged Cup challenger in the future.
Ainslie, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, will field his own AC World Series team – Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) – before joining ORACLE Racing to help with their defense of the 34th America’s Cup in 2013. Ainslie says building his own AC45 team adds another dimension to the challenge, as he takes on a leading role in all facets of the campaign.
“I’ve had some great experience in the America’s Cup already,” Ainslie said, referring to his time with Emirates Team New Zealand (32nd AC) and OneWorld Challenge (31st AC). “As a sailor, the America’s Cup has always been a dream for me, so this opportunity to put a team together for the America’s Cup World Series, as well as to build something with an eye to the future, is one I’m very excited to take.”
The plan, he says, is to convert his AC World Series team into a full challenger for the 35th America’s Cup.
“The goal today is to put together a team to test the waters of the America’s Cup with a view to coming in with a full challenge for the 35th America’s Cup. The AC World Series has proven to be a great event, which offers a lot to potential partners as well as to sailors like myself. The AC45s are exciting to watch and they’re extremely challenging to race. Without a doubt the racing is producing the best sailing footage for television that I’ve ever seen, so I think the AC World Series is providing something that sailors, the public and sponsors can all get behind.
“I have to put my hand up and admit I was a little bit skeptical with the switch to multihulls, but having watched what’s happened over the past season, I’m a convert. The racing is fantastic and all of the sailors I’ve spoken to who have been involved in the Series are really enjoying it. The AC45s respond almost like dinghies, and the short courses mean there’s so much going on all the time, which brings in a level of physicality that wasn’t in the America’s Cup before.”
The addition of BAR, as well as Luna Rossa Challenge, means two more elite level teams are joining the America’s Cup World Series in 2012.
“Having quality sailors like Ben Ainslie take a look at the America’s Cup World Series and then feel inspired to say, ‘I want in. I’m going to start my own team so I can do this too,’ is a pretty nice endorsement of what we’ve been working on for the past 18 months,” said Iain Murray, Regatta Director for the 34th America’s Cup. “With Luna Rossa Challenge joining us in April and then Ben Ainslie Racing coming aboard later in the summer, the competition is only getting stronger and the racing will be that much closer and exciting because of it.”
But before Ainslie can turn his focus fully to the America’s Cup, he has the small matter of a fourth gold medal to take care of.
“London 2012 is an incredible opportunity to race on home waters in the Olympic Games, so my focus is on that,” he said. “It’s an intense process in the build-up to the Games, but there are a few windows of time in the next few months where it will be refreshing to get away from the training and work on something slightly different. And as soon as the Games are over, I’ll be committed to the Cup.”
The 34th America´s Cup consists of three main stages – the America´s Cup World Series, the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America´s Cup Finals. Each AC World Series regatta will be a combination of practice and championship racing, with additional practice sailing on-site ahead of each event.
Photos / Videos: Americas Cup & © GILLES MARTIN-RAGET / ACEA
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